Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series

Adina Roskies
Professor of Philosophy, Dartmouth College
Time/Date: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday, May 4th, 2015

Chancellor’s Conference Room, KL 232

“Of Monkeys and Men: Can experiments illuminate philosophical problems?”

The brain sciences are providing new means of investigating brain processes involved in decision making. However, our ability to understand decision-making at the computational level requires methods unsuitable for use in humans. Here I argue that monkeys are attractive models of human decision-making, and that neurophysiological recordings in monkeys can provide insight into human decision processes. I explore a number of objections to the relevance of monkey data to understanding human decision-making, including the importance of language and consciousness, and argue that none undermines the applicability of the model, though some may limit it. Finally, I’ll briefly address the relevance of studies of decision in monkeys to questions of free will.

Bio (taken from http://dartmouth.edu/faculty-directory/adina-l-roskies):
“Adina Roskies is a professor of philosophy at Dartmouth College. Her career spans both philosophy and the neurosciences. At the University of California, San Diego she concurrently earned an M.A. in Philosophy and an M.S. in Neuroscience, and received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science in 1995. Adina went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroimaging at Washington University with Steven Petersen and Marcus Raichle, using both positron emission tomography (PET), and the then newly developing technique of functional MRI. Following her postdoc, Dr. Roskies became Senior Editor of the neuroscience journal Neuron, a position she held from 1997-1999.” See also this article.